Improving the lives of people with learning difficulties was top of the agenda at an event organised by Ellesmere Port social care provider 1st Enable.
Service users and carers joined commissioners from the NHS and local councils to discuss ways to improve services at the event at Inglewood Manor in Ledsham, Cheshire.
1st Enable, which is part of the Fairhome Care partnership of social care companies, was formed in 2012 and provides a range of care and support services to people in Cheshire and the Wirral.
As well as supporting people to live independently it also provides activities and training opportunities aimed at building confidence and self-esteem.
In 2016, 1st Enable signed up to the Driving up Quality Code – making a public commitment to a series of good practices and behaviour aimed at supporting people with learning difficulties.
Kerry Smith, senior service manager at 1st Enable, said: “The purpose of the event was to get feedback from our service users, their families and those who commission our services on how we are doing.
“As part of signing up to the code we commit to being as open and transparent as possible. So that means having regular conversations with the people we work with: on what we are getting right and the things we need to do better.
“We welcome constructive feedback as it all helps to improve the way we deliver caring and person-centred support for people with learning difficulties in Cheshire and the Wirral.”
At the heart of the event were 1st Enable customers who gave talks on their experiences and how they felt the company was living up to the standards set out in the code.
Those attending the event made suggestions for what they wanted to see improve on a ‘pledge tree’. There was also a chance to enjoy some ice-breaker activities including football, African drumming and yoga.
Customers Ben Duckworth and Lisa Churchill shared their personal stories – including experiences they have gained through 1st Enable’s Skills Centre which helps customers to develop their skills and reach their potential.
After completing life skills training Ben has gone on to work as a receptionist and assistant support worker at 1st Enable. He provides travel training to other 1st Enable clients, has passed his driving test and now lives independently in his own home.
Lisa moved into a care home run by 1st Enable in Chester after two years in hospital, and now volunteers at the company’s community cafe in Whitby Park.
Lisa said: “Moving out of hospital and into supported living with 1st Enable meant I finally had freedom and was able to plan my future: something that is difficult to do when you’re in hospital.
“I have been very lucky to be supported by such an amazing team who have stayed with me through everything. I have a job, working in a café, every other Saturday, I have my own car and do lots of activities such as zumba, swimming, horse riding and badminton and have been on holidays and day trips.
“The best thing about being out of hospital and living in Chester is that I can see my family again. I am planning with my team to move to a new flat in Ellesmere Port, where I hoping I can have some more independence and maybe start going to the shops on my own. Exciting times!”